Lemon Squares from The Smitten Kitchen

Cook BookI’ve enjoyed baking out of The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook, by Deb Perelman. I’ve baked two things from the cookbook and am tempted to make many more. The Lemon Bars, I am posting about today, are most unique. They were so quick to prepare and took longer to cool than to actually make. I appreciated Deb Perelman’s bringing me back to my food processor. I haven’t used it for much of my baking, depending more on my KitchenAid mixer. I am reminded how the food processor shortens so many tasks (grating zucchini, making a pie crust, etc.)

In preparation of the pan for this recipe, I liked the idea of creating a sling out of parchment paper, for the pan. The sling made it easy to remove the bars from the pan, in one fell swoop. Cutting them outside of the pan, into squares, made for efficiency and greater precision.

Because this recipe calls for an entire lemon to be processed as the key ingredient of the lemon mixture, the end result was not as smooth as I was expecting. I was curious as to the thoughts of others, so I offered these Lemon Bars to many willing tasters. Most thoroughly loved the flavor and didn’t mind the texture. A few preferred a more gel-like lemon mixture. They are truly a cookiebar.

I will keep this recipe on my favorite’s list… as I can prepare it in a moment’s notice, when I am short on time, or the night before when anticipating company.

Lemon Squares

Note: You’ll need a food processor for this recipe

8-inch square pan
Pre-heat oven to 350°
NOTE: Deb Perlman suggests you make a parchment ‘sling’ as an easy way to remove the lemon bars from the pan, when baked and cooled. If you would like to learn to do this, check out directions from King Arthur’s  Flour: Parchment Paper Sling. If you opt not to make the sling, be sure to butter the pan so the bars won’t stick.

The Crust
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon table salt,
1 stick/ 8 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into chunks

1. In a bowl of the food processor, blend the flour, sugar and salt together.
2. Add the butter and pulse until the mixture is powdery but firm, when pressed together with your fingers.
3. Turn the dough crumbs into the prepared pan and press the down evenly across the bottom, about half an inch thick up on the sides.
4. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
5. Bake for 20 minutes (no need to cool).

The Filling
1 small to medium sized lemon, about 4 1/2 ounces (NOTE: You will use the whole lemon)
1 1/3 cups sugar
1 stick/ 8 Tablespoons of unsalted butter, cut into chunks
4 eggs
2 tablespoon cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon table salt

  1. Cut the lemon in half and make sure that that the widest part of the white flesh is no thicker than 1/4 of an inch. If it’s thicker than ¼ inch, you’ll need to find another lemon, as a wider white flesh will make the lemon bars bitter.
  2. Cut the lemon into rings and discard the seeds.
  3. In the same food processor which the crust was prepared (no need to clean it) , put the lemon rounds and add the sugar.
  4. Run the machine until the lemon is thoroughly pureed, about two minutes.
  5. Add the butter and run the machine again until smooth. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Add the eggs, corn starch and salt; pulse the mixture in short bursts, until the mixture is evenly combined. Be sure to scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  7. Pour the lemon mixture over the crust and bake for 35 to 40 minutes on 350F or until the lemon mixture is set. You can test it by bumping the side a little, making sure it only slightly jiggles. The top will be slightly brown.
  8. Cool before cutting into squares ( I put the pan in the fridge to hasten the process)

And Voila!

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